Zoe Ball is pushing herself to the limit by taking on an exhausting new challenge in memory of her late boyfriend Billy Yates.
The Strictly: It Takes Two host was left heartbroken when cameraman partner Billy, 40, was found dead at his London home in May 2017.
She explained on Chris Evans’ BBC Radio 2 show today that Billy’s death and mental health struggle had been pivotal to taking on the Sport Relief challenge.
Zoe, 47, is attempting the BT Cycling Challenge, but kept tight-lipped on just how far she will pedal – although she did say it was a “huge distance”.
“I’ve never done any huge endurance before. I haven’t run marathons. I think dancing [in Strictly Come Dancing] was probably the most physical thing I’ve ever done, so this is quite a big ask for me.
“But there is a reason I wanted to get involved this year: one of the biggest issues that Sport Relief is supporting is mental health and that’s why I got in touch.
“I know a lot of people will know I lost my boyfriend last year, who had been living with depression, and I was left with quite a lot of questions after that.
“So as well as doing this mammoth challenge, we’re making a documentary where I visit projects helping people with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, self-harm, bereavement, people hearing voices.
“We are trying to reduce the stigma and discrimination.”
Zoe went on to describe the outpouring of love and support she received from fans and others in a similar situation following Billy’s death.
“I was touched by the amount of people who got in touch with me and are still getting in touch with me, who are trying to look after loved ones living with mental illness,” she said.
“We know mental health resources are under a huge amount of pressure and often people aren’t getting the right support quickly. So I have lots of questions to ask people and will visit projects giving people hope and helping people.”
Zoe said she knew she wanted to do something in memory of Billy and to help others who may be going through what he went through.
“You have a platform and I want to raise more awareness,” she said.
“I want to do something for him, for everyone else. I think it’s one in four people who are living with mental illness, so that’s a lot of people, friends, family, people who are struggling. [I want] to do something, ask questions, find out more, hopefully spread some hope and raise some money.”
Zoe’s fans have inundated the TV presenter with good luck messages, praising her for using her platform to do something so important.
Among them were fellow presenter Gaby Roslin, who said: “Go gorgeous girl. Fantastic news and you’ll smash it. Good luck and know we’re all cheering you on with love and support all the way.”
And Strictly’s Karen Clifton added: “Good luck my love…. supporting you all the way.”
Good luck, Zoe!